Steelers select DE Stephon Tuitt in the Second Round

STEPHON TUITTDefensive End/TackleUniversity of Notre Dame Fighting Irish6-5, 303Monroe, GeorgiaMonroe Area High School2nd Round – 46th Overall

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View photos of Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 2nd Round Draft Pick, defensive end Stephon Tuitt.

Tuitt started 29-of-35 games at Notre Dame, including his final 26 at left defensive end and his first three starting assignments at left tackle…Finished with 127 tackles (59 solos), 21.5 sacks for minus 163 yards, 25.0 stops for losses of 176 yards and 27 quarter-back pressures…Caused four fumbles and recovered another that he advanced 77 yards for a touchdown…Deflected four passes, intercepted another in the end zone for a score and blocked one kick…School Career-Record Results…Tuitt's 20 sacks are the most for any active Notre Dame player and rank fifth on the school career-record chart, one shy of Mike Gann's total of 21.0, which ranks fourth in school history (note-sacks became a recorded statistic in 1982)…School Season-Record Results…Ranks second on the Irish season list with 12 sacks in 2012…School Game-Record Results…Tuitt's 77-yard advancement of a fumble vs. Navy in 2012 is the second-longest in school history.

Tuitt started all 13 games at left defensive end, playing more than 25 pounds over his previous weight from his sophomore campaign (328)…Ranked sixth on the team with a career-high 50 tackles (24 solos), leading the Irish for the second consecutive year with 7.5 sacks for minus 56 yards and nine stops for losses totaling 62 yards…Credited with 13 quarterback pressures, as he caused one fumble, scored on an interception and deflected two passes…Recipient of the Notre Dame Moose Krause Lineman of the Year…Also on the watch lists for the Maxwell Award and Bednarik Award…Recorded an interception return for touchdown vs. Michigan, becoming the first Irish defensive player with a fumble and interception return for touchdown in a career since Tommy Zbikowski (2004-07)...Played arguably his best game in a Notre Dame uniform vs. Southern California, as he registered his first multiple sack game of the season (two for minus 16 yards) and fourth of his career, adding seven tackles. Only two players in school history have posted more multiple sack games over their career (Justin Tuck and Bryant Young)...Registered six tackles, a sack and quarterback pressure in the victory over Michigan State...Added five stops, a sack and two quarterback pressures vs. Oklahoma...Posted his 17th career sack and fourth career forced fumble in the fourth quarter vs. Arizona State, as he added another half sack vs. the Sun Devils...Collected his milestone 20th career sack in the final minutes of Notre Dame's 23-13 win over Brigham Young and helped prevent any chance of a Cougar comeback. He also recorded seven tackles, three quarterback pressures and a pass breakup vs. BYU.

Tuitt was named All-American first-team by ESPN.com, Athlon Sports, Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports, adding secondteam accolades from the Walter Camp Foundation, the Associated Press and Sporting News, along with honorable mention from Pro Football Weekly…Added to the watch lists for the Maxwell Award, Bednarik Award and Ted Hendricks Award…Started all 13 games at left defensive end, recording 47 tackles (24 solos), as he led the Irish with 12 sacks (second on the school season-record chart) for minus 89 yards and 13 stops for losses of 93 yards…Credited with nine quarterback pressures…Returned a fumble recovery 77 yards for a touchdown and caused three fumbles…Also deflected one pass and blocked a kick…His score via a fumble recovery came in the season opener vs. Navy, as he also tallied four tackles and two sacks for nine yards vs. the Midshipman...Had four more tackles each vs. Purdue and Michigan State, as he posted two sacks for 12 yards vs. the Boilermakers and one sack vs. the Spartans...Made two tackles and a sack for 10 yards vs. Michigan and was in on seven tackles and a key half sack vs. Stanford...Posted five tackles and two sacks for a loss of 25 yards vs. Brigham Young and notched six tackles and 1.5 sacks for six yards in a three-overtime win over Pittsburgh…Added one sack each vs. Boston College and Wake Forest, as he also forced two fumbles vs. Boston College...Totaled five tackles in BCS National Championship Game vs. Alabama.


2011 SEASON**
The talented freshman saw action in nine games, while starting vs. Navy, Wake Forest and Maryland at left defensive tackle…Did not play vs. Michigan, Purdue, Boston College or Stanford...Showed steady improvement throughout the season, tallying 26 of 30 tackles (11 solos) over the final six games played...Recorded two sacks for minus 18 yards, three stops for losses of 21 yards, five pressures and a pass deflection…Had season high in tackles with seven in games vs. Southern California and Navy...Notched five tackles and a pass breakup in a win vs. Air Force...Turned in his most disruptive game in a win at Wake Forest, compiling four tackles, with two going for a loss of 14 yards, as he also had an 11-yard sack...Registered three tackles to go along with a seven-yard sack in the Champs Sports Bowl vs. Florida State.

Tuitt attended Monroe (Ga.) Area High School, playing football for head coach Matt Figg…Rated 38th nationally on Sports Illustrated list of top players during his senior season… Named Georgia Class 3A all-state first-team by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2010… One of four Georgia players to be named to All-Southern team by the Orlando Sentinel, as a defensive end, but also performed at tight end…Led Monroe High to an 11-2 record and a third-round appearance in the Georgia Class AAA state playoffs during his senior season, after the team had finished a combined 0-20 the previous two seasons…Received first-team all-Georgia Region 8-AAA accolades after he posted 56 tackles, 24 stops-for-loss, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered…Closed out his career by playing in U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio and in the Team USA vs. The World All-Star Game in Austin, Texas.

Tuitt is enrolled in the College of Arts and Letters, with a major in anthropology…Son of Tamara Tuitt...Born on 5/23/93 in Miami, Florida…Full name: Stephon Jakiel Tuitt…Resides in Monroe, Georgia.

Defensive Line/Assistant Head Coach John Mitchell RE 2nd Round Pick Stephon Tuitt


John Mitchell:** I'm pretty happy. I think we got a really good football player. I had the chance to go to Atlanta and work him out. I was really impressed with him. As a defensive line coach, we see defense a little different. We [play] from the inside out rather than from the outside in. There are three things when I evaluate a player that I look for. One, can this player stay on his feet? Two, is he physical? And three, will he run to the ball? A lot of other people put a lot more premium on guys who can rush the passer, but in this division and in this league, if you do not stop the run you don't have a chance to win many football games. The thing that I like about Stephon is that he can stack, he can shed, he can get off, and he can run to the ball. If you look at him during his sophomore year, this guy was probably one of the best defensive linemen in college. He had 11 sacks. He played the run very well. He was a dominant player. Before the 2013 season, he had an injury. He had a hernia. He wasn't able to train, and he got heavy. If you look at him from the 2013 season and you compare him to the 2012 season, you will see a different guy. He knows that he has to be in shape. He's over that injury. We look for this guy to be here for a long time. He's a guy that can do a lot of things for us. He can push the pocket. He can play the run. He can get off blocks, and he can get to the ball. We got a good football player tonight. If this guy had been healthy coming into his junior year, he probably would have been in the top-ten guys drafted. We feel like we got a steal in the second round with our pick.

He had a foot injury, correct?
Yes, he had a foot injury. When I was in Atlanta he was getting that [worked on]. He was 100 percent when he came in here. I asked him about it, and it's not a problem.

Do you think that helped cause him to drop to the second round?
Definitely, but the big thing was the hernia that he had. He gained weight. If you go back and look at him as a sophomore, he played around 308 to 310. Last year he played around 330 to 335. He was carrying that extra weight with the foot and the hernia, so he didn't play well. He didn't play up to his ability.

What weight should he be?
If you go back and look at him, as a sophomore he was about 310. He was a good football player. In our scheme most of the ends we had were 310 or 315, so 310 will be a good weight for him.

Re: He was starting to feel better at the Combine:
He did, when he was in Atlanta. When we worked him out in Atlanta he had shed quite a few pounds. He was around 315, 312. Yes definitely. When you draw up an end for our scheme, a guy that is going to play a five technique over the tackle and a three technique over the guard that's what you want. You want a guy, especially with the height that he has, that can push the pocket. He gets his hands up; he's knocked down a lot of passes. If you look at his stats for three years, you are going to see a guy who had a lot of production. The guy had 20.5 sacks in three years. He had 124 total tackles, tackles for loss I think he had 15 or 20. This guy is a productive guy. That's [his injuries are] behind him. He's got to come in here and start from day one and do it the way the Steelers want it done.

How much five technique did he play at Notre Dame, and what side was it on?
Well they played him on both sides. Basically he played a lot more on the right side but they moved him around. They had a player there, Louis Nix III, so they could do a lot with those two players.


Since Stephon's a young guy, how much growing do you expect him to go through?**
I don't think he needs to get much bigger, but what he needs to do is fill out and grow mentally. He's coming from a big program, Notre Dame, but it's a lot different when you go to the next level. There are 6-5 guys who weigh 310 pounds, there's going to be a lot of them in this league and what you've done in college doesn't make you a good football player at the next level. This guy has the ability. When you look for a defensive lineman, I don't care what scheme you play, you have a guy who is 6-5, 310 who can run and who stays on his feet and is physical and you have a pretty good football player.

Has he ever seen such a quick transformation of personnel that has taken place the past couple years on defense?
I had some guys that were here for a long, long time; guys who played for 10 or 12 years and then you lose them and have to start over. A lot of those guys that I had, we grew up together. With the transition now, you're getting some young guys and you're getting some guys who do not have a lot of playing time under their belt and it's going to take a little while to develop them. The game has changed, most of the teams want four or five receivers, so you have to make an adjustment to who you're going to keep on the field and who you're going to take off of the field. At one time, this league was a running league and people ran the ball so you could play with the same guys for three downs. Now, that's not the case anymore.

Are you happy with the depth the defensive line is starting to build?
When you get a guy like we did in Stephon tonight, it adds quite a bit to the depth, but we're still going to look at a couple more guys. I still need a couple more guys and we're going to see what's going to unfold in the draft in the next day or so.

Re: Cam Thomas playing defensive end:
Cam doesn't have to learn a lot. At San Diego he played inside and outside. Cam is a guy that is going to give us a few options. He can play the five technique or the three technique. At San Diego he played inside as a one technique and a three technique. We will start him off as an end. He gives us a lot of flexibility as an end and a nose tackle.


Do you expect Steve McLendon to take his game up a notch?**
I do. Steve was here for a long time. He played behind Casey Hampton and Chris Hoke. He is a guy who made himself and worked real hard. I'm pleased where he is. I've watched a lot of tape, reviewing a lot of things from last season and he is a guy who knows what he needs to do, and I think he is going to improve. He is going to get better and better. This was the first time he has played in the NFL as a starter. It's not easy, and I'm sure he had a lot of weight on his shoulders knowing how Casey and Chris played, and I'm sure he wanted to do well. I told him you can't be Casey and you can't be Chris, just be Steve McClendon. I think we are going to see Steve McLendon rather than Steve trying to be Casey or Chris. He has put in the time. He is very diligent about watching tape and being on time. You have to be yourself and not worry about what you can't do. What he can do is run to the ball. He has to learn to get off blocks and keep his pad level down. He is not going to be as strong as Casey. Chris was very intelligent, and Steve is also. He has to be able to take things from the classroom to the field. If he can be Steve and not Casey or Chris, he will be okay. I'm not worried about him at this time.

Is Tuitt a strong side guy?
We don't have a strong side. It's wherever the formation breaks. Sometimes in our defense he might be a three technique or a five technique. The offense is going to dictate that. We are going to start off at one side right now and we will go from there.

Which side?
We haven't decided that yet.


What are your thoughts on playing in Pittsburgh?
Oh my gosh it's exciting. It's a blessing to be part of this defense, and tremendous. I can't wait to get there tomorrow and help this team and be part of an organization that many people don't get a chance to be part of and I get a chance to be part of.

How do you feel about joining a defense that has transitioned to a younger approach?
I feel great. I'm comfortable with all the coaches there. I believe in them and they believe in me and I can't wait to be coached and learn the system.

How much did the hernia injury bother you last year?
My hernia (injury) bothered me half of the season, the first half. Towards the second half I got it strong and when the season was over with I got it even stronger at IMG Academy and now I'm ready to roll.

How is your foot?
My foot is great.

What happened with your foot?
I had a Jones stress fracture that the doctors found early at the combine. They thought the* *plate had broke so they just got the bone back together, put a screw in it and it's healthy.

Do you think that foot injury kept you out of the first round?
I don't know. All I know is I believe that everything happens for a reason. It was meant for me to come to the Steelers.

Do you have a preference in playing in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense?
It didn't matter. Wherever I went I was going to be able to open up the playbook for the defense.

Why are you so happy about coming to the Steelers?
Because I know I'm going to be able to take off with a great coach that will be able to coach me under great players that are there. The history of that defense is tremendous and I can't wait to help put it back up there.

Re: Being ejected from the game vs. Pittsburgh last year at Heinz Field:
When we played Pittsburgh [Laughing]? Our defensive players did what we were supposed to do to make sure that the offensive players stopped getting first downs. It didn't go my way but the team they held on, they fought strong, but it didn't go our way.

What did you think about the targeting call when you were ejected from the game?
Of course as a defensive player I think that's the worst call in America [laughing]. But you can't do much about that.

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